How to live with your adult child
With the rising cost of living in Vancouver, it’s more difficult for young adults to move out of their family homes. But as roles in the family home shift from parent to roommate, relationships are often strained as both parties struggle to navigate new boundaries and revise old expectations. When parenting books and experts offer tips exclusive to raising children and teens, where do you turn to for advice on how to live with your adult child during this new stage of parenting?
Curfews no longer apply
As your child gets older, the space in the family home starts to feel smaller and more crowded. You may have thought that they’d be on their own by now, but their current (or lack of) income simply doesn’t meet the cost of living in the most expensive region of the country. Many parents now accommodate their kids well beyond the anticipated (or hoped for) age of independence.
Newly fledged from the confines of secondary school, your now adult child is eager to embrace the new freedoms and privileges of adult life. They can drink, vote, get a degree, and set up their own cell phone plans. School nights are now a distant memory and curfews no longer apply. In your middle age you suddenly have a roommate who stays out to all hours of the evening. When your kitchen erupts with noise at 3am as your kid hosts their friends for an after-club snack fest, it’s easy for the parents to feel taken for granted. You feel “disrespected” and frustrated by what you perceive as a lack of consideration for your needs, and disregard for the rules of the house. Viewed from the vantage point of a 20-something adult, the family home has become more of a halfway house to shower, eat, sleep, repeat.
Transitioning from parent to roommate
As you transition from parent to roommate, it’s helpful to remember that your new relationship relegates you to a peer. To set new rules and boundaries for this new relationship, your guiding principle is mutual respect. Your child may feel criticized and attacked if newly imposed “quiet hours” are presented as a consequence. House rules are best presented for discussion and review. It’s your home, so you have a right to request a reasonable standard of cleanliness and undisturbed sleep. Treat your child like the reasonable adult they can be, and strive to build a positive relationship.
Remember this is a relatively new lifestyle for everybody. No one is perfect at any stage of parenting, from infancy to adulthood. Most importantly, don’t let issues in your home fester. As soon as problems arise, address them. However, if issues start to boil out of control, hiring a family counselor to mediate issues is a great option to explore. A counsellor may assist you to establish boundaries and mediate a plan for when your kid can prepare to fully fledge from the family home. Together you can work to create a home environment that works for everyone.
Maureen Chute has worked with families for over 15 years. She has provided therapy for individuals, couples, youth and families in public health clinics, hospice/palliative care, private practice and family service agencies. She has trained in Family Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Emotion Focused Family Therapy (EFFT).